Federal Government Issues Policy for Driverless Cars

By: - September 20, 2016 12:00 am

Answering the call of automakers who don’t want to tangle with a patchwork of state regulations, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued its first policy for putting self-driving cars on America’s roadways.

The new Federal Automated Vehicle Policy includes a 15-point safety guideline for manufacturers and urges the states to let the federal government regulate the technology and performance of automated cars.

However, the department said it would work with the states in the areas where state and local government needs to be engaged: driver education, licensing and adapting regulations to allow the use of the cars on the road.

Companies like Google have already begun testing driverless cars in cities where officials, excited about the vehicles’ potential to improve traffic safety and increase mobility, have let the cars operate with little regulation.

Few states had passed laws on the computer-run vehicles in the absence of federal guidance. But this year, at least 14 considered implementing regulations.

Proponents of driverless cars say they will reduce crashes caused by drunken driving and other human error, as well as help people with disabilities, who may not otherwise be able to drive.

And U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appeared to agree, saying “automated vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives, driving the single biggest leap in road safety that our country has ever taken.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Sarah Breitenbach

Sarah Breitenbach, who writes about the business of government for Stateline, has spent much of her professional life writing about Maryland politics and policy. She began her career covering education and state government for the Frederick News-Post and has worked for the Gazette of Politics and Business and The Associated Press.